France expands vaccine roll-out as Macron expresses support for patent exemption

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that he was “absolutely in favor” of a worldwide exemption from patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines, adding his voice to a campaign backed by US President Joe Biden.

Macron’s statement marked a shift for France, which had previously opposed such a move that could discourage innovation and argued that patents should only be lifted as a last resort.

No French pharmaceutical company has yet succeeded in developing an approved Covid-19 vaccine.

Macron also said his country’s vaccination campaign would be ramped up, saying unused injections could be absorbed by all adults from next week, regardless of their health status.

Under current rules, vaccines are only available to people over 55 or people with chronic health problems.

“We don’t want even a single dose to be lost,” Macron said when he opened the capital’s largest vaccination center, run by the Porte de Versailles fire department.

But Macron also chided Britain and the US for not exporting doses to vaccine deficient countries, unlike European countries.

“Of the doses we have produced, about 65 million have been used by us and 45 million have been exported. Of the doses produced by the British or Americans, for example, zero doses have gone abroad,” he said.

Macron also said the scheduled date from which people in France over 50 could book a vaccination appointment would be brought forward by five days, to May 10.

“The goal is clearly to continue our march at a rapid pace,” said Macron.

The government hopes to reach the first 20 million vaccine doses by May 15 and 30 million a month later.

On Tuesday, 16.4 million people had received a first dose, which amounts to just under a quarter of the population, and 7.3 million of the total had also received a second dose.

France expects 4.5 million new vaccine doses per week in May and 6.9 million per week in June.

(AFP)

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